This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.
In a world of huge investment rounds, it’s reassuring to learn that you can still build a business the old fashioned way. In 2012, teaching assistant Alice Hall bought a pack of dresses for £90 and sold them at a markup on eBay. Reinvesting her profits, she sold two packs, then four, then eight.
After six months, Pink Boutique moved from eBay to a dedicated website. Five years later and entirely bootstrapped, Pink Boutique employs 70 people and ships thousands of garments each day.
Pink Boutique is the only business in our Northern Tech 100 league table entirely owned by women. Hall’s mother stumped up the initial £90 investment to start the business and remains the company’s only other shareholder.
In a competitive fashion ecommerce market, Pink Boutique has carved out a niche for itself. It supplies a glamorous look to women that has proven popular in party towns like Glasgow and Liverpool. If you’ve got your tan and your heels on point, a Pink Boutique outfit is the perfect centrepiece for your look.
Hailing from the North’s ultimate party town, Newcastle, Hall spotted that demand for this look wasn’t well served by the big players in the market. “We were in the right place at the right time. We were first to market with the glamorous look.”
Recognition and a mission
Hall’s success has earned her a place on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe list, and as a finalist at the North East Business Executive of the Year Awards 2016 for Tyneside and Northumberland. Meanwhile, Pink Boutique recently came in at number 12 in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league table, which ranks private companies with the fastest-growing sales in the UK.
Despite her success, Hall is far from finished. Staying true to her niche, Pink Boutique is exploring the possibility of serving its target market with an expanded range of products. And while the firm has attracted an international customer base in the US, Australia and Eastern Europe without really trying, Hall sees growth potential outside the UK once she starts marketing internationally.
Beyond Pink Boutique, Hall recently co-founded a separate business with her husband. Glam Home Store serves the furniture needs of the glamorous crowd, working with small suppliers to deliver items like sofas and beds faster than most major retailers.
Alice Hall is the perfect example of an entrepreneur who knows, lives and breathes her audience, serving them with conviction, passion, and disregard for the conventions of the mainstream market.
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